River Blindness Govt set up committee to eliminate disease in Kwara

Kwara State Health commissioner has revealed the plans of the state government to eliminate River Blindness in the state.

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Illustration of the disease cycle of river blindness, or onchocerciasis. play

Illustration of the disease cycle of river blindness, or onchocerciasis.

(Carter Centre)
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The Kwara Commissioner for Health, Dr Suleiman Alege, has said that the state has set up a Technical Advisory Committee on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)

Alege, who made this known in Ilorin on Saturday when he received the Sightsavers of Nigeria, said the the committee would assist eliminating river blindness and other diseases in the state.

He said the Federal Government had launched a robust and integrated multi-year national plan to control and eliminate the river blindness in Nigeria by 2020.

The commissioner said that  the government had inaugurated a committee to work with the affected local governments in the state to reduce the scourge in the communities.

The commissioner explained that NTDs were poverty-related and degenerating diseases.

He included astrachoma, leprosy, buruli ulcer, elephantiasis, soil transmitted helminthes, schistosomiasis and river blindness, among others as degenerating diseases.

“We experience the bigger burden of the disease in Nigeria, hence we must put all measures on ground to solve the issue because NTDs are becoming a growing
concern which must be tackled holistically.”he said.

Alege noted the state government would not leave any stone unturned in making health care delivery available and affordable in every nook and cranny of the state.

Earlier in his address, the sight savers Country Director for Nigeria and Ghana, Dr Isiyaku Sunday, said the visit was aimed at advocating government support for the elimination of river blindess in the state.

He said sight savers was the leading NGO supporting Onchocerciasis in Africa, adding that they are working in some African countries like Nigeria, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Uganda, amog others.

Sunday said Nigeria bears 25 per cent of the NTDs burden in the African sub region with some of the NTDS being in the highest number of reported cases globally.

According to him, this makes them to impact negatively on life expectancy, education and economic opportunities of affected individuals and the communities they live in.

He added that the disease could be treated and prevented but were known to affect the poorest, most marginalised and most remote communities in the world.

He explained that they thrive where access to potable water, sanitation and hygiene, healthcare and good housing conditions were limited or even lacking.